Let’s get one thing straight: being a nurse isn’t a job for the weak-hearted. In fact, nurses have a boatload of duties on their plate, such as caring for patients, running back and forth to assist doctors, operating medical equipment, performing tests, administering medication, and whatnot.
All too often, nurses let their health fall by the wayside for the benefit of others. That’s not okay because before they know it, they become overworked, tired, and sleep-deprived. This can also impact their willingness to continue working and professional growth.
Nevertheless, staying fit and healthy as a nurse requires a lifestyle change that encourages better nutrition, peace of mind, and exercise. These are three things nurses often have a hard time incorporating into their schedule. So, if you’re a nurse struggling to maintain personal physical and mental wellness, we’re here to help. Listed below are some tips and tricks to help you improve your overall health and well-being.
- Find a mentor
Look for someone to whom you can turn for support and advice. A mentor can assist you in recognizing your potential and voicing your concerns. Doing so will allow you to meet the requirements of your job without becoming exhausted. Also, find a mentor who encourages you to become future-focused and bold in your line of work, other than being your guide.
- Maintain a work-life balance
Without this, you’ll always find yourself juggling between career-related responsibilities and personal commitments. And before you know it, you’ll be overwhelmed by fatigue. Therefore, make professional choices that do not force you to sacrifice time for activities outside of the hospital and vice versa. For example, we all know that nurses must continue their education to excel at their jobs. So, while you’re weighing the benefits of an MSN vs DNP, you can opt for acquiring either qualification on the internet. Flexible learning opportunities will enable you to create your own schedule while also making time for friends, hobbies, and self-care. Similarly, opt for shift timings that allow you to include personal commitments into your routine. By striking the perfect work-life balance, you’ll reduce the risk of burning out.
- Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine is the most common vulnerability known to nurses, especially for those working the night shift. Excess caffeine consumption can harm brain function and contribute to higher sleep deprivation. According to the researchers at Michigan’s Henry Ford Hospital, caffeine consumed even 6 hours before bedtime results in significantly reduced sleep quality and quantity. So for the sake of your health and the night shifts, go easy on the caffeine, okay?
- Start a fitness routine
You should never ignore or give up on a good workout despite your hectic schedule. A healthy workout is essential for physical and mental well-being. It keeps the body active, burns extra calories, and keeps job stress at bay. The best approach is to determine what works best for your routine. Remember that you may have to go through a trial-and-error methodology before successfully identifying the right time and exercises. If you intend to exercise after work, consider a quick but effective workout. You can do a 20-minute high-intensity interval training session. If you don’t have enough stamina after a long shift’s work, a restorative yoga class might be a good alternative. If you work day shifts, you should look for a gym halfway between your place of employment and your home. Or, if your clinic/hospital has one, avail it.
- Hydrate yourself
Water is essential for good health. According to the Institute of Medicine, an adequate intake for women is 9 cups of water and 13 cups for men. Doctors recommend eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day, so we see no reason why you, as a nurse, should not listen to them. While drinking so much water may sound intimidating, there are a few things you can do to boost your intake throughout your job routine:
- Keep a refillable water bottle near your workstation
- For a flavor boost without the sugar, try seltzer or add your favorite fruit
- Use an app to remind you when to drink up.
- You deserve to take breaks
Stepping outside for a few minutes to soak in the fresh air may seem like an impossible task amid a busy and stressful shift. But breaks are necessary to avoid burnout. Stress has a compounding effect, which means that the more agitated you are, the more profoundly any additional stressors will affect you. Therefore, do not compromise on your nurse break. Taking out a few minutes to practice deep breathing exercises or sitting in silence with a cup of coffee can help you release bottled-up tension. Doing so will help you return to work more focused and energized. Furthermore, it is essential to schedule time off throughout the year to unwind and spend quality moments with the people you adore. So avail your annual leaves.
- Sleep well
As a nurse, it’s essential to get enough sleep before you start your work. But it may not always be easy to do so. Hence, make every effort to get enough sleep because not getting enough sleep can lead to various adverse outcomes. You may feel cranky, impatient, overeat, your energy levels will deplete, and you may end up making a lot of mistakes. Apply face masks for a fresh face and use earplugs to drown out noise so you can sleep soundly at night or during the day. Moreover, white noise cancelers may also come in handy. We also suggest not chugging too much caffeine before bedtime. And limit social media use too.
- Snack smartly
Munch on snacks that fulfill your cravings while also providing your body with energy. Snacks rich in high0wuality carbs and protein will give you the most bang for your buck and keep you going until your next meal break. Here are some suggestions for healthy munching:
- Greek yogurt topped with granola and berries
- Protein shakes
- Trail mix
- PBJ sandwiches
- Vegetables and hummus
- Jerky turkey
- Fruity cottage cheese
- Personal hygiene is essential
Is it better to take a bath before or after your shift? Both have their own set of advantages and disadvantages for nurses. Taking a bath before your shift wakes up your spirit and gets you ready for work. On the other hand, taking a shower after a shift helps refresh your tired body and mind and remove any microorganisms you may be carrying on yourself. Perform the requirements and precautions to protect yourself during your work timings. As nurses, you must constantly be wary of germs and avoid becoming carriers of infection. Making handwashing and the use of sanitizers a habit will help with this simple task and ensure wellness.
So let’s say it out loud: NURSES NEED A BREAK TOO! How else do you plan to survive several hours of tiring work if you don’t take out time for yourself? Thus, you need to care for yourself. Ignoring your burnout and poor lifestyle choices isn’t a healthy way to live. By implementing these wellness tips for nurses and recommending them to your fellows, you can ensure you’re ready for anything that comes your way. Just remember that you are a human being, not a robot. To be effective and successful at your job, you must lead a healthy life and learn how to say “NO” when you’re not in a condition to give out your best.